Some cultural initiatives are more significant than others. It’s the case of the international seminar “Greece, European paradox, between crisis and refugees”, promoted by the Jubilee campaign “The right to remain in one’s homeland” and by the national campaign “One human family: food for all. It’s our responsibility.” The event will take place in Athens next July 7-9, to reflect on the causes of the economic crisis in Greece and of migrant inflows, focusing on those involving Greek shores. The organizers – that include Caritas Italy, Missio Foundation and FOCSIV – made known that the purpose of the event is to promote a sound discernment.
Today as never before it is necessary to counter the so-called “weak thought”, a characterising feature of post-modernity that tends to mistake complicated situations for complex ones.
The first case refers to questions that require further analysis and thus could virtually be solved. The term “complicated” comes from the Latin term “cum + plicare”: com- ‘together’ + plicare ‘to fold.’ There ensues that it can be “unfolded” by identifying the various different parts, as if facing a huge pile of documents folded on a desk each of which could be “unfolded” by reading its content, thereby making them intelligible. Conversely, the term “complex” comes from the Latin term “cum + plectere”, which literally translates as, “plaited”, underlying the extreme difficulty, even the impossibility, to identify ways to “untie” it. Certain situations, such as the morbid condition of a patient in a hospital, could be caused by a set of different illnesses that tend to interact in unpredictable ways. The underlying misunderstanding in our societies as well as in our Christian communities consists in the fact that we tend to face problems as if they were “complicated”, namely, as if solvable per se, while instead they are “complex.”
The fact remains that following this approach international creditors have imposed devastating austerity measures to the Greek population, assumed to be spendthrift, in the belief of recovering national economy, but they failed to envisage the collateral effects. From now until the binding decisions on debt restructuring scheduled for the year 2018, interest rates linked to financial speculation will have inevitably reached skyrocketing levels, thereby procrastinating the sufferings of the population with the risk of thwarting Greece’s chances of recovery. In this respect it is advisable to reflect on the common philological origin of the two above-mentioned terms (complicated and complex), namely, their Indo-European root “plek”, whence stems the Latin term “plicare” (to fold); the verb “plectere” (to plait), the suffix “plex” (part) and the word “sine plex” that originated the term “simple.”
Thus the real challenge of our times, namely, the globalization of market vs the globalization of individual rights, consists in understanding the complexity of the entire issue, without getting sidetracked by trivial simplifications.
In order to appropriately address a complex phenomenon it is necessary to have a detailed picture of it, to know its effects, causes, refraining from a mere analysis of the different parts, for the final result does not consist in the sum of its components. In essence, turning to the migration question – a matter of primary concern of European leadership and of a large part of the public at large in the Old Continent – this means that if accurately examined such issue cannot be separated from its root causes (war, exploitation of resources by multinational corporations, poverty…) nor from the social, political, economic, and legislative difficulties of the host countries. All of these factors interact with each other, sometimes making the issue extremely tangled and difficult to solve. For these reasons, we must be thinkers, if we, as believers, want to mark a turning point: the deeply coveted change.